Juveniles Test Negative for COVID-19 at Two North Carolina Facilities; Testing Underway Today at Third Facility Following Staff Self-Reports of COVID-19 Infection

RALEIGH

Following testing earlier this week, children at two state juvenile justice facilities have tested negative for COVID-19; testing of juveniles at a third facility will take place today (*update 5/22 - test results for all 19 juveniles at Edgecombe YDC were negative for COVID-19). This testing is occurring after a staff member at each facility reported that they tested positive for the coronavirus.

On Monday, Juvenile Justice officials provided coronavirus testing to all children at Stonewall Jackson Youth Development Center in Concord, where a staff member last Friday self-reported a positive COVID-19 test result. Results received this morning show that all 87 of the juveniles in the facility tested negative for COVID-19.

One unit of juveniles at Chatham Youth Development Center in Siler City that were potentially exposed to a COVID-19 infected staff member were themselves tested earlier this week for the coronavirus; test results for the children were negative for COVID-19. A direct care staff member at Chatham YDC self-reported a positive COVID-19 test result on May 18. The employee was last at work on May 9, following notification to facility management of a potential exposure to the coronavirus. The individual’s COVID-19 test swab was taken and sent to a lab for processing on May 15. Out of the total 24 children at Chatham YDC, only one unit of four children were tested, since the employee who tested positive for COVID-19 worked only with that unit.

All 19 juveniles at Edgecombe Youth Development Center in Rocky Mount are undergoing COVID-19 testing today after a staff member there tested positive for the coronavirus. (*update 5/22 - test results for all 19 juveniles at Edgecombe YDC were negative for COVID-19). A direct care staff member at Edgecombe YDC self-reported testing positive for the coronavirus. Positive test results were reported to the facility by the employee on May 18. The Juvenile Justice employee has been off the job since May 10, following notification to facility management of a potential exposure to the coronavirus. On May 13, the individual’s COVID-19 test swab was taken and sent to a lab for processing.

The Juvenile Justice section is following guidelines from the CDC and N.C. Department of Health and Human Services in conducting contact tracing and notification procedures, as well as quarantine and cleaning protocols. Staff members determined to have had close contact with these individuals per CDC definition will undergo quarantine and testing.

The staff members at all YDCs have been offered COVID-19 testing through an initiative announced last week for free, confidential and convenient testing to all employees of the Adult Correction and Juvenile Justice. Stonewall Jackson YDC employs 189 people, 75 people are employed at Edgecombe YDC employs, and 73 staff work at Chatham YDC. YDC employees serve in roles such as direct care, education, administration and maintenance.

To date, there have been no confirmed COVID-19 infections of children in North Carolina's Juvenile Justice facilities. It is important to note that social distancing is possible within juvenile detention centers and youth development centers. Juvenile detention centers, and individual living units within youth development centers, are comprised of a common area used for meals and recreation, along with individual rooms for each juvenile.

“We are pleased that all juvenile test results we have received so far have come back negative,” said William Lassiter, deputy secretary for Juvenile Justice. “I thank the frontline heroes in our facilities who have implemented and have been following the strict policies and procedures we have developed to reduce the opportunities for the potential spread of the virus. These measures and their hard work protect the health and well-being of our staff, and the children who are in our care.”

Some operational changes in the Juvenile Justice section since mid-March have included:

  • Suspending visitation and volunteer activities at all juvenile justice facilities, until conditions are deemed safe. All non-essential volunteers, contractors, and vendors are prohibited from entry. Contractors/staff undergo screening procedures prior to entry.
  • Placing all juvenile detention center/crisis and assessment center admissions in medical room confinement for up to 14 days or until cleared by a medical provider to join the general population.
  • Screening all juveniles prior to transportation. If a juvenile is feverish or has a respiratory illness, the juvenile shall not be transported.
  • Placing into medical room confinement all juveniles in secure custody with symptoms while investigating the source of their medical issues and during provision of medical care. This is being done to prevent the spread of coronavirus if it emerges in the population.
  • Rescheduling all non-critical off-site medical appointments.
  • Presenting specific educational information and training at facilities for staff members and youths around COVID-19 safety precautions including washing of hands, social distancing, information about how the coronavirus is transmitted and wearing of face masks.
  • Posting informational literature in all facilities to stress the washing of hands and other preventive measures juveniles, staff and visitors can take to reduce the spread of diseases.
  • Decreasing the number of youths in detention through the utilization of electronic monitoring.
  • Suspending home visits for youth committed to a youth development center and deferring the requirement that a juvenile complete all pre‐release home visits before being release from a youth development center.
  • Increasing the number of phone calls permitted between juveniles and their families.
  • Increasing the use of telehealth services, to include the provision of mental health services at detention in addition to youth development centers.  
  • Handling necessary court hearings via videoconference.

Here is additional information for DPS Actions in Juvenile Justice.

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